Powered by WebAds

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Asking the wrong questions on airport security

Some of you might have noticed that I've been away from the blog for a couple of hours. That actually happens more often than you all think :-) but this time I did not have time to set up enough posts in advance.

I've expressed surprise a couple of times at polls that show that 81% of the American public supports the use of full body scanners and 'enhanced pat down' techniques in American airports. Well, surprise, the surveys are asking the wrong questions (Hat Tip: Instapundit).
The sample size and selection methodology seem reasonable. However, the following questions apparently were not asked: “Have you or an immediate family member flown on a commercial airliner in the United States since November 1, 2010?” and “Do you or an immediate member of your family intend to fly on a commercial airliner in the United States in the near future? If not, have your plans been changed on account of recent changes in airport security procedures?” A breakout of the data as provided by the Yes and No respondents to these questions would have made the survey far more informative.

The report of the survey speaks of “two potentially inconvenient and invasive practices” at airports. However, the reported question asks only about the new “‘full body’ digital X-ray machines.” No question was reported about the second and certainly more invasive of the “two” techniques, presumably the “enhanced pat-downs.” If a question was asked about the latter, the results were not reported.

As to “profiling,” the question was whether it would be justified or unjustified for people of “certain racial or ethnic groups to be subject to additional security checks at airport checkpoints.” Again, questions about recent or anticipated travel by airline in the United States and cross tabulations of the responses under those categories would have made the survey report more useful. As to profiling based solely on race or ethnicity, to which the survey appears to relate, my answer would have fallen into the “not justified” category.

Had the question been about additional security checks based on perceived religion, race, ethnicity, age, and conduct which would appear to a reasonable observer trained in interpreting conduct, body language, and conversation to be “abnormal and suspicious,” my answer would have fallen into the “justified” category. Like it or not and quite independently of race and ethnicity, far more young Islamists than elderly Methodists have, during the twenty-first century, engaged in terrorist activity as encouraged by their religious leaders and teachings; those facts should be part of the mix to be considered, even though I guess it could be argued that since there have been no terrorist attacks involving airlines in recent years by elderly Methodists, TSA (Transportation Security Administration) procedures have functioned quite well.
Read the whole thing. It would be interesting to see a survey that asks the right questions.

For the record, I also have not seen a survey of Americans who have been through Israeli airport security who believe it's unreasonable. In fact, most of the articles I've seen by Americans who have been through Israeli airport security were quite favorable. But don't tell that to the politically correct chattering classes.

If you're flying in the US, remember National Opt Out Day on Wednesday.

Labels: , , ,


At 4:52 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

I'm opting out by default. I don't need to fly anywhere for the holidays and I have no interest in the Obamacare clinic at my airport.


Post a Comment

<< Home